I’m 21 and in college but my boyfriend Jermaine skipped college to be a musician. I care about him a lot but my girlfriends keep hammering me with the stereotypes about artsy types – chronically underemployed, dreamers, players. They say he’s a nobody. But I thought he and I were special. Until he tells me he got crabs from a pool hall toilet seat and I should get myself checked out. So I went to my college health service. Indeed, he gave me the gift that breeds more gifts: crabs. I had to wash all my clothes in hot water and killed my favorite sweaters. Jermaine finally broke down and admitted cheating on me with some skank from his hometown. He hurt me so much with that. He’s crying and says he was afraid if he told me the truth from the start, I would have dumped him. So I forgive him. Fast forward a couple of months. Right now I’m going through a pregnancy scare. All because he says “the condom ripped.” I had a sneaky feeling from his sheepish demeanor so I ask him: “Did you rip the condom?” And he says “Just a little bit.” I am just stunned and so, so hurt. Again. I ask him “Why?” Then he says “so you couldn’t leave me.” I am devastated. Beyond hurt. Who is this person I call my boyfriend?
I’m a star volleyball player at my college at the tip-top of a winning season. After a crew team party at St. A’s, I’m suddenly seeing a place-kicker on the football team Jason. Did I mention I’m a healthy weight at five foot seven and 14o pounds? But Jason’s sister Erica is captain of the cheerleaders so there’s a lot of social pressure in their crowd. To be part of the in-crowd, to look and dress the part, to be pretty, to be thin. Jason is endlessly pointing out to me models I look like, models I could look like if only… His voice trails off and then he’ll pinch an inch on me. Can he be serious, you ask? Oh, he is dead-ass serious. And I put up a good front but I feel like I can’t even see him if I have been eating like I want. Like he’ll know and scold me and won’t like me anymore. I know, I know. But I really like him and like being in the in-crowd. But then again, he eats cereal out of a dog-bowl. And is rocking a pudge to boot.
Somehow having the affection and attention of a cute guy short-circuits our brains and suddenly the guy’s opinion means so much more than our own. Why you ask? Because we rationalize — we validify logic for something that we know is wrong. For giving their opinion of us power, for giving away power over our bodies and health, for accepting declarations of love that don’t match behaviors. The reward for doing so is that intense, that sought after. It can happen within hours, days or months — we are compelled to go along with anything to have more hits of that person and that feeling we crave.
I think we all have to love ourselves first and most. Yes, love God and your family. But when you put a dude and his feelings and his needs above yours, it’s pain and trouble. A woman knows when her man is not treating her right. He may confuse her perception with honeyed words and certain kindness and physical pleasure. If she finds the inner strength to separate or ditch, then the svengali is often able to just suck her back in with sweet talk and the “love me” jazz.
If he loves her so much, why does she end up feeling bad every time? He makes the boo-boo and we women think he’s gonna kiss it and make it all better. The deception he is pulling off is that he is the boo-boo. It’s a mindgame that’s old as dirt.
This guy wants his way and reliably doesn’t care what it costs her emotionally.
Try to replace him. Even if you only start seeing other people at the same time, it’ll make clear to you that you can do better.
Love doesn’t have to come bundled with pain a& suffering to be authentic.